Claiming My Space {In the Crescendo of Praise}

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My monthly post at 5 Minutes for Faith was inspired after reading these verses one early morn:

“I look up at Your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
Your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and starts mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do You bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?”
Psalm 8:3-4~ The Message

I’d love to have you visit and join in on the praise with me. Simply click the button below!

Here’s a sneak peek:

The sun enters gracefully, allowing the crescent moon to descend in glorious splendor. Its slender, sickle silhouette dances over the treetops until it retreats in peaceful slumber. One by one, the stars follow suit as they blink farewell, allowing sun’s rays to burst in fortissimo as it makes its crescendo of praise.

And I’m captivated. Simply mesmerized at how the colors radiate and claim their space in His majesty. It never grow old. Each day portrays a new sonnet for I’m convinced not one sunrise is exactly the same with the way the trees sway in unison, keeping time for each songbird as they make their daily début.

Then I think…the God who orchestrated all of this with scientific precision…is captivated by the thought of me.

Me…

Want to read the rest? You can CLICK HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

On Guarding Your Heart The Wrong Way

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It was too soon to see them, but I saw the pink and blue lines anyway. I’d later discover it was the first gift of many. But at the time, instead of celebrating what God’s capable of, all I wanted to do was guard what He’s already given me. So I held tightly to my family and shared the news only with those experienced at guarding my wounded heart before.

Time passed and the list of possible complications shortened. Still I held my breath, for I’d been there before. And now… instead of my heart aching for the inevitable happening, it burns with regret because I didn’t give Him glory when glory was due.

Friends, just before Christmas I labored love from my womb. I heard the doctor say “It’s a boy — what’s his name?” and my husband and I have been celebrating this gift ever since. Praising God in humbled reverence because we know we don’t deserve this perfect child of His.

And then, over these last few months, I’ve noticed that pain I’d mentioned –the one I’d grown used to– has been transformed. I no longer ache in emptiness — I throb in fullness. And friends, I want to be clear about this: it’s not for the reason you would think.

It’s not because He gifted me with another healthy child. No.

I’d like to think I would have come to this realization regardless, but ashamedly I’m not so sure…

Let me try to explain.

Love I Cor 13:7

They say a mother instantly forgets the pain of labor once the baby is cradled in her arms. I’m not sure it’s instant, but something does happen when the child your child is first given to you (in labor or adoption –motherhood knows no difference). Love only HE is capable of giving pours down so much so that you’ve got to let go of something before you can take your next breath.

Most mothers trust their instincts and let go of the painful journey of getting there so they can cling to this new love. A love gifted directly from The Father.

I firmly believe a mother simply chooses to forget.

And that’s where I went wrong. I chose to forget the wrong thing.

  • I remembered the pain, clinging to it as if that’s all I had left, and forgot how He carried me through.
  • I focused on the hurt and not on how He tended to my wound.
  • After I’d lost another, I determined this was my lot and decided then to make sure no one or nothing would ever hurt my heart again. I even justified it (wrote about it some HERE), thinking that is what God was suggesting I do: Guard my heart.

When I look back now, I see where I went wrong.

(and it was the shock of a healthy baby boy that made me take a second look)

Is it just me or do we all often forget that God is love? God IS…Love.

So when He promises that Love always protects…wouldn’t that mean God will always guard my heart for me?

It seems I was guarding my heart the wrong way…and as a result, I was stopping Him from fulfilling His promises to me.

Friends, I wasn’t guarding my heart at all, I was hardening my hurt. I hardened my vulnerability. And we all know, He works best with soft, moldable clay…or even dust. Instead, I built walls, which ultimately stifled Him out of emitting any light the doors and windows gave way.

Please know, while I understand the need to ensure the enemy holds no grip on me, apart from that, I’m starting to believe I should leave my heart open wide so that He can shine through me.

You see, this heart I have, it’s not mine anyway… No. I gave it to Jesus a long time ago.

Maybe where I went wrong was simply with the idea that I needed to guard my heart from pain. When really, all I needed to do was to guard my heart from anyone else ruling this sacred space that belongs to Him. Including myself.

And I trust He’ll never leave me nor forsake me. So what can man do to me, anyway?

I may get pressed, but won’t become crushed.
I may feel alone, but will never be abandoned.
I may be struck down, but won’t be destroyed.

So no more.

  • No more living in fear of what I may have to walk through. He’s proven He can handle it and will carry me when I can no longer stand.
  • No more staying quiet when joy comes easy, assuming the worse is yet to come. He deserves all the glory I can muster every minute of every day.
  • No more lingering on things that didn’t go my way. For His way has proven to be good. All the time.
  • It’s settled then. No more guarding my heart in all the wrong ways.

From now on, I’ll allow Him to stand guard and take permanent residence in all my vulnerability. For glory is found in the pliable.

I’ll simply guard His promises tucked safely in the space He protects: my heart.

And find comfort in knowing His love…God never fails.

Friends, once I accepted this truth, I felt complete. Throbbing in fullness for His love for me. Do you?

How about you, friends? How do you guard your heart while staying vulnerable to His shaping? I’d love to hear. 

And I’m not even close to done telling this story. Next, I plan on sharing how I discovered I was being distracted by fear. And then how I realized I wasn’t focusing on the Healer. I hope you’ll join me.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

My Life {Punctuated with Hallelujahs}

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Friends, I’m tired. I say that literally as I care for this newborn babe. And I must confess, I had forgotten how hard simple life tasks are when sleep alludes you.

Even hallelujahs.

That’s what I’m talking about over at 5 Minutes for Faith today. I’d love to have you stop by. Just click the button below!

And can I just say I miss this space? I know I haven’t been around. It honestly wasn’t intentional and am determined to carve out some of my day this week to update any of you curious as to why. If you have time, please, check back in.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. I hope to see you over at 5 Minutes for Faith.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Enter Into His Presence {Christmas Style}

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When I think of anticipation,
I recall the all-familiar
scene in
“The
Christmas Story”
.

You know the one — where they are anxiously waiting for their moment with Santa. Ralphie’s rehearsing what he will say until it’s perfect. You can almost hear his heart pounding in expectation of what he considers the most defining moment of his young life.

Finally, his time has come, and as he approaches the man dressed in red, he freezes.

Ralphie’s mouth gapes wide. He stares at the one he’s been envisioning, his well-prepared speech weighing heavy on his tongue.

Whether he’s in shock, awe, or disappointment, I still can’t decide — maybe all the above… Regardless, he almost misses his chance to share what he longs for most.

burning-thru-the-fog-Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography

Friends, when we approach our Creator — hopefully every day — we are having that defining moment.

Think about it…

When we pray, we are walking up to the King of all Kings. The Jehovah. The Alpha and Omega.

We don’t have to travel far and wide, long and rugged like those wise men of old. We don’t have to leave our sheep behind to stand before Him personally. He’s already here with arms open wide. Inviting us into His chamber…

It should make our heart palpitate. Our souls should arrive humbled and yet expectant. Knowing this moment is sacred. Acknowledging this time is life-changing.

The best part? (Besides not having to wait in line) We don’t have to rehearse a thing. He already knows what’s on our minds. But if we can muster up enough strength to say it to Him directly, we’ll find what Ralphie was searching for.

Redemption.

Fulfillment.

Relationship.

Answers.

I’m not sure, but maybe it’s all the above.

This Christmas Season, let’s find out together. Let’s allow our hearts to flutter when we bring our meager selves to Him. And let’s tell Him what we long for most as we bring our souls to His knees.

I don’t know about you, but I can already hear Him saying, “Come…”

And do you know what else, friends…He knows our name.

How about you? How do you prepare for your time with The Savior? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

The Gift of Sacrifice {Thanksliving}

Give Thanks

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

For the month of November, we at 5 Minutes for Faith will be spending time each day Thanksliving. That’s what I call it, anyway. Where we take the time to list our praise. Our thanks. Our admissions that we would be nothing without Him.

And it’s my turn today!

Won’t you stop by and share with me what you’re thankful for today? Let’s offer a sacrifice of praise together! Simply click on the button below:

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
      If you keep to my path,
      I will reveal to you the salvation of God.
Psalm 50:23 NLT

Epic Grace {A Book Review}

I assumed it would be a light read. A simple testimony on how one has grabbed hold and clung on tight while being flipped upside down. That’s what grace does, after all, in epic proportions. And I was intrigued to know if the author’s experience was similar to my own…or worse.

The funny thing about grace, you learn to realize, is that once you understand what it’s capable of, there is no worse. Only similar. None of us can be the exception. We wouldn’t want to, anyway, because look at where being the exception leads you — hung on a tree, left alone to die. And no, there’s no graceful way to say that.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that the author felt like my next door neighbor. One I could meet with at the fence any time and gain some perspective I hadn’t seen in my everyday — how every circumstance is laced in glorious grace. You just can’t get high enough on the fence to see it sometimes.

I like what he said about perspective:

At best, we humans have a three-dimensional ability to see the world around us…Our vision is limited. It is restricted by our humanness on the one hand and by circumstances beyond our control on the other…Why is it, then, that we are so surprised when things sneak up on us? Why is it we’re so easily blown away by the circumstances and trials that seem to come out of nowhere? ~ pg 156

Friends, do you see where grace sneaks in and grabs hold? Some day I’m determined to become merely blown away by grace freely offered rather than the circumstances and trials. For they both creep in when you’re not looking, but only one offers any form of control…even if we have to give it away to obtain it.

I really enjoyed the real life, personal examples Kurt Bubna shared in this book. And the journey this life has lead him on provides many. I could relate to each one. Some hit too close to home for comfort. Others made me appreciate my path a bit more.

After reading, there was one topic he touched on a few times I couldn’t stop thinking about. And I wanted to share it with you. I’ll quote directly:

God will use whatever means necessary to create in us the likeness and character of His Son. He is absolutely committed to our spiritual growth. In fact, God is far more concerned with our growth than He is with our comfort. ~ pg. 144

So, when life surprises you–and it will–what are you going to do? Who will you trust? Where will you turn for help? Who will you love the most? Remember this: God will use whatever means necessary to bring ongoing spiritual development into our lives. ~ pg. 153

It’s the “Who will you love the most?” question that haunts me still. Because think about it, friends…God is passionate about me becoming whom He has made me to be. He won’t rest until the job is done.

And what I can’t seem to wrap my mind around is this:

  • God loves me in spite of me.
  • What’s more, He loves me enough to not be satisfied with the me that spites.
  • Not only that, He’s willing and offering to help me become what He has created me to be — a likeness of His perfect Son.

So I don’t have to do this alone–even though He has instilled in me all that’s required.
THAT is epic grace!

I know it deep in my marrow, and still I struggle with loving Him…the most.

Friends, I long to say I love my Creator above all. And some days, I can. Other days, grace does it for me. I’m so thankful…

So if you’re like me…if you need to cling tightly to the lifeline that grace is. If you desire to feel you’re not alone in the battle. If you realize you are far from perfect yet He loves you anyway — this book is for you.

You can view the trailer of this book HERE. It is a very good depiction of the testimony shared within the pages.

You may also purchase the book HERE. (I’m not an affiliate. Just making it easy)

How about you, friend? What does grace mean to you? Do you still struggle with the perspective grace gifts us with? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

WRITE {Bleeding Black and White} ~ Five Minute Friday

This is the post where I
Link arms with others who like to
Write on the wild side –unabashedly
Over at Lisa-Jo’s.

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For five minutes time.
Without editing or backtracking
On one word alone:

WRITE

It’s never been my thing. I didn’t want it to be, anyway. But I’ll never forget the day I felt it. It came during a time I was feeling very little–all by choice. You see, when pain hit me the hardest, I chose being numb over feeling how powerful love’s pull is. Yet, I couldn’t shake the ache. The longing. The choking desire to hold a pen in my hand and let it express what I refused to feel.

Friends, I wrote it which gave me permission to feel it. I wrote its resolve which directed me to His open arms. And in the writing, I was healed.

Ernest Hemingway is quoted saying there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. Friends, you don’t know how close he is to the truth until you do just that. Until you risk it all and bleed in black and white.

It’s vulnerability at its finest.

In practicing this art, that which I will never master, I learn to appreciate its value. It’s changed my perspective on what I hold most dear.

I cling to my Bible now as I tenderly trace these Words written with my heart in mind. And as I read the Words spilled of the blood shed for me, I allow myself to feel. To accept His grace described and share it with others.

It’s why I write. Because He wrote to me first. And until He comes back to take me Home, we will continue this scandalous love affair of written exchanges. Just Jesus and me.

STOP.

Would you like to see what others thought of the prompt?

Would you like to play along?
Join in on the Five Minute Friday Flash Mob!
Simply click on the button below!

How about you, friend? Do you bleed black and white? Do you exchange love letters with your Savior? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki